From a number of smaller organisations, on Churchill’s orders the Special Operations Executive was formed in July, 1940, it’s mission; ‘to set Europe ablaze’. This new organisation would report to the Ministry of Economic Warfare, headed by Hugh Dalton and of his new responsibility he was very clear; ‘We must organise movements in every occupied territory’. He remained true to his word and from a position where the British had very few agents in enemy territory, by the time that he left, in a political reshuffle, there were dozens in place. S.O.E. was divided into three elements; S.O.1. dealt with propaganda, S.O.2. with active operations and S.O.3. with administration. S.O.1. inherited those initial elements set up by the previous Department Electra House, which dealt mainly with printed material, in the form of air dropped leaflets and pamphlets but the covert beginning of radio broadcasts had also been laid.
Wavendon Towers, code named 'Simpsons' from a proximity to the village of Simpson.
The first of these ‘freedom stations’ was run by ‘Mr. Turner’ and his ‘Das Wahre Deutschland’, (The True Germany), went on air on 26th., May, 1940. Propaganda programmes had originally been recorded at Whaddon Hall but due to the need for an increased accommodation, towards the end of 1940 recording studios were set up at Wavendon Towers, codenamed ‘Simpsons’, from a proximity to a nearby village of that name. Harold Robin
and a colleague, Cecil Williamson, had been sent out to find a suitable property and chose Wavendon Towers because the Marler family held no objection. Major Marler was away in the army and his family had moved to the safer realms of Scotland. With Wavendon Towers in operation, another station, G2, ‘Sender der Europaischen Revolution’, (Radio of the European Revolution), began operation. The contents were decidely left wing and under the control of the socialist, Richard Crossman, the production team were accommodated at Dawn Edge in Aspley Guise, where Crossman’s wife attended the domestic duties. As the person now in control of S.O.1, Reginald Wildig Allen Leeper, (pictured left) former head of the Foreign Office News department and an Assistant Under Secretary at the Foreign Office, was given with his wife and daughter accommodation at the Old Rectory at Woburn by Dalton, he having blocked attempts to gain possession by the pacifist housekeeper, Mrs. Samuel.
Dawn Edge - one of the many houses in Aspley Guise which accommodated secret broadcasters. Other houses would include The Mount, Wednesden and Nether Hill. In January, 1943, the 'QC' personnel moved to 43, Aspley Hill.
At weekends, the Old Rectory became the scene for a tremendous house party held on Saturday nights. After an excellent dinner, events concluded with cigars and brandy, the assembled company, to usually include Hugh Gaitskell and Gladwyn Jebb, then listening to the views of Dalton or Dallas Brooks on the war. A meeting to produce the initial plans for an ‘International Communist Station’ had been presided over by Reginald Leeper on 31st. August, 1940 and this Marxist station, broadcasting on 31.3 metres, urged the German workers to abandon Faschism and encourage European goodwill. However, in time feedback from German prisoners of war proved that it had little effect and many Germans had never heard of it.